Mobilising your digital assets to harvest health data about your local population

Did you know that the chances are that in any typical health economy something close to 60% of the adult population are probably using at least one social network? And some of the audience figures are even more remarkable. Take Liverpool, for example, within 10 miles of the city there is apparently a Facebook audience of 540,000 people.  Many of these people could be patients or potential patients – ready and willing to talk about their own care or their friends’ and families’ care.  So never before has it been so important to build your capability to listen, engage and ultimately mobilise your social media assets to improve health and social care locally.

 How do you do this?  Well here some things to start doing right now.

  • Start lookingFind out where your online communities are, who is talking about local issues and where? Where do people hang out online? Who are the most popular bloggers in your town?  Who are the online stakeholders with most influence? Don’t worry, there are tools you can use to help, so it is not as scary as it might sound.
  • Set some objectives for your online presence.  This will give you focus and help you to evaluate your progress. It is also a good way to avoid falling into the social media time pit.
  • Build a strong presence on those networks that are most important to your audience.  So you might need to think long and hard about your Facebook presence and ask yourself ‘What does our page timeline say about our organisation? What apps have we integrated into our Facebook to help patients and carers talk about their care?  How can they share their experiences?’
  • Think content engagement.    Like it or not social technology means that your communications and engagement team are in essence running a radio and television station, a small media empire, capable of publishing creative and engaging content like videos, images, stories, infographics, podcasts and so on.  Investing in the capability to do this will build you a strong following and in time this will become a valuable source of patient experience data.
  • Invest in your social team. Successful digital engagement is not one person’s job.  There may be one or two pioneers in your organisation but the responsibility needs to rest with a team of collaborators.  They will push for digital content, protect your online presence and look after your communities on social networks
  • Create your own social space for those who desire even more involvement. This could be your own digital engagement HQ where people log in, share their personal details, remain connected and agree to collaborate with you deeply on health and social care issues.
  • Monitor and mediate.  Invest in technology (or outsourced services) so that you can monitor social media spaces, protect your social media assets and mediate your public dialogues.  Never before has it been so important to build organisational capability to deal with misleading anecdotes.
  • Integrate social media analysis into your management structures.  Analyse conversations about health and social care, local hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes and report this back to key decision makers, to help to improve quality.

Participate provides communications and engagement support for health and social care – online and offline.  Our digital engagement and campaigning services include social media and digital engagement training; strategic support;  social media monitoring, mediation and analysis; campaign delivery; and content production.  For more information please contact


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